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17 Res Publica 343 (2011)
An Axiomatic Theory of Law

handle is hein.journals/respub17 and id is 343 raw text is: Res Publica (2011) 17:343-354
DOI 10.1007/s11158-011-9168-9
An Axiomatic Theory of Law
Paolo Sandro
Published online: 23 August 2011
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
Abstract This paper presents in outline Luigi Ferrajoli's axiomatic and general
theory of law, as developed in his lifelong work Principia Iuris. The first section
focuses on the three main aspects of the theory: the methodological, the theoretical
and the pragmatic, which respectively represent the theory's syntax, semantics and
its pragmatics. Ferrajoli identifies three deontic gaps of norms: firstly, the one
between their validity and efficacy; secondly, the one between their justice and
validity; and finally, and most importantly, the one between validity and existence
(i.e. normative force). The presence of such gaps is, according to Ferrajoli, the
extraordinary innovation that entrenched constitutions have brought into modern
legal systems, by establishing norms that are superior to statutes and case law. In
this sense, all normative phenomena (except for the constitution itself) can be
conceived both as norms and as facts. In the second section the role of juridical
science is briefly discussed.
Keywords    Axiomatisation - General theory of law - Deontic gap
'Unlawful law' - Constitutionalism - Juridical reason
In this paper, I shall briefly illustrate the basic features of Luigi Ferrajoli's theory of
law, which comprises the entire first volume of Principia iuris (Ferrajoli 2007).1
This expounds an axiomatic theory of law, divided into four parts: (a) 'deontics',
which concerns the relationships between actions, deontic qualifications, subjects
From now on, this text will be referred as PL. Unless otherwise indicated, page references in brackets
will be to volume I of the book.
P. Sandro (E)
School of Law, University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK
e-mail: p.sandro@sms.ed.ac.uk

I_ Springer

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